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May 14, 2009

Reina: Award winner Gerrard is best in world

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina believes Steven Gerrard has been the best player in the world this season and admits the team are not the same without their captain.

Gerrard was named the Football Writers' Association Player of the Year and Reina said there was no-one more deserving.

''I am happy with it. It's fully deserved - and not just in terms of England, but for the whole world,'' he said. ''This season he has been superb - our best player, the best player in England and the best player in the world.

''Liverpool are a different team without him. We have to play and compete as a whole squad but he is key for us.''

Many thought Gerrard should have also won the Professional Footballers' Association's award last month but that went to Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs, who was second in the FWA poll with team-mate Wayne Rooney third.

Reina said the media had got it right in selecting form over sentiment.

''To be honest, when it got out that Ryan Giggs had been given Player of the Year by the PFA, well it was fair because he's played for a long time, but for me Stevie was the one,'' Reina told liverpoolfc.tv.

''But the media have given the right award - it's fully deserved.''

Gerrard was quick to credit manager Rafael Benitez and his team-mates with having a hand in his personal success.

''I've had fantastic help along the way from everyone at this football club,'' said the 28-year-old, who has scored 23 goals this season, with his 15 in the Barclays Premier League helping Liverpool sustain a title challenge with United.

''My family and friends come every time I play and everything I achieve in football they are a very big part of that because they are there for me 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

''But the biggest thank yous have to go to the manager, the coaching staff and my team-mates. Individual awards are great but you don't win them without great help from those people.''

Benitez paid tribute to Gerrard for the season he has had.

''I'm really pleased for Steven. It is fantastic for him because he was competing with a lot of good players,'' Benitez said. ''For him to be named player of the year is massive credit to him and shows just how much he has achieved.''

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